Phil Huerta, Winona County ASAP Coordinator
Read about Phil Huerta, the Winona County ASAP Coordinator, and his role in creating a safe, healthy drug-free community in Winona County.
ASAP stands for the Alliance for Substance Abuse Prevention. It is a community-based coalition led by volunteers to reduce and prevent youth substance abuse. We have leaders and partners in law enforcement, schools, student groups, parent groups, healthcare, and local government who help organize campaigns and events throughout the year. The aim is to help break down misperceptions around substance use, reinforce healthy choices, and promote resiliency with local resources.
Describe your role as Coordinator. How did you get started in this type of work?
My role as the Program Coordinator is to help the community with substance use prevention initiatives, build more connections, and provide some administrative support. I began serving in this role in 2015 when I discovered the prevention field by accident. Originally, I was looking to get into the counseling field and took a small step by getting a license to practice Addictions Counseling. I was also interested in working with youth so the Coordinator position looked really interesting. By surprise, I found my passion to get ahead of health-related issues through prevention work and building ASAP. I continue to get fueled by hearing people’s stories and seeing the volunteerism that gets poured into a local need.
What is next for ASAP?
ASAP has helped reduce prescription drug misuse in Winona County. From 2013 to 2019, reported prescription drug misuse among 11th graders dropped from 10% down to 3% (Minnesota Student Survey, 2019). This change occurred by reducing access to prescription (RX) drugs in the community and providing information to students about the risks. Our volunteers and partners helped host semi-annual “RX Take Back Day” events, solidified two new permanent drop boxes in the community, and organized school assemblies on the issue. Attention is now being turned to vaping and underage drinking. ASAP’s upcoming plans include providing information to students through a new curriculum and helping parents recognize vaping use and ways to intervene. ASAP will also support local law enforcement efforts to educate bars and restaurants on alcohol-serving best practices and completing random checks to test compliance. I always enjoy having a cup of coffee with someone to hear how they might be interested in helping out with this work, so please reach out.
What are your Healthy Habits?
One of the greatest habits that I found in the last couple of years and maintain is forming 12-week goals. If you haven’t read “The 12-Week Year”, you should, it is a great book. The idea is that setting yearly goals is too broad and the brain does better by focusing on only specific activities for just 12 weeks or 3 months. This habit has helped me identify and focus on the things that matter most to me, and control only the things I can realistically control. I use this habit for forming my daily planner as well. To stay physically active and have fun I go trail running, lap swimming, hiking, and fishing.